Howto: Register Firefox Portable as the default Windows browser

Ramesh has written some instructions detailing how to register Firefox Portable as the default browser for Windows XP and Windows Vista.

He uses a utility called DefaultBrowser to define the default browser in XP, and uses a tool called RegisterFirefoxPortable to do the same in Vista.

This is pretty slick, something I’ve been thinking about doing for a while.

Viewing Firefox’s Super Cookies

Pascal has a nice short post on Firefox’s “super cookies” and the information contained inside the browser’s DOM storage. He does a nice job describing comparing Adobe’s Flash local storage to this storage technology, and gives examples of how to view this data using sqlite3 in Unbuntu.

If you’re running Windows, you can try the open source SQLite Database Browser instead of sqlite3 to view the webappsstore.sqlite file, which is a binary file normally unreadable to humans. SQLite Database Browser allows you to browse the database as well as query it.

I think more and more Internet based data will be stored in this manner in the future, so I hope others will check out the information stored in this database file. I’m surely going to be examining the webappsstore.sqlite file the next time I need to perform any type of computer forensics information gathering on a computer.

Major Websense Content Filter Bypass Vulnerability

I almost missed this Websense vulnerability, since it was published 12-21-2007, while I was on vacation. I’ve verified it works on one of my client’s networks using Firefox Portable, Websense 6.1.1, ISA Server 2004 Standard, and User Agent Switcher 0.6.10.

Mr HinkyDink, who discovered the issue used Websense 6.3.1, so I’m sure other Websense versions are susceptible as well. His instructions are:

I. Install FireFox 2.0.x

II. Obtain and install the User Agent Switcher browser plug-in by Chris Pederick

III. Add the following User Agents to the plug-in

Description: RealPlayer
User Agent : RealPlayer G2

Description: MSN Messenger
User Agent : MSMSGS

Description: WebEx
User Agent : StoneHttpAgent

IV. Change FireFox’s User Agent to any one of the preceding values

V. Browse to a filtered Web site

VI. Content is allowed

Content browsed via this method will be recorded in the Websense database as being in the “Non-HTTP” category.

See also Websense KnowledgeBase article #976, Websense cleaned up this issue in database #92938.

I work with a ton of school districts, all who are required by law to provide content filtering. We constantly struggle to keep ahead of the various methods of bypassing the filter that students find, but I really don’t fault the kids for being curious, or trying to outsmart the adults. I think the fault lies with the teachers who are supposed to be supervising, but instead allow the students to do whatever they want.

Firefox 2.x and excessive memory consumption

I usually have a lot of tabs open in Firefox while I work. I’ve noticed (as have many others) excessive memory consumption by the browser at times. Right now firefox.exe is using 121,484K with only 9 tabs open. I rebooted first thing this morning, and I’ve had Firefox running for only about four hours.

Most of the information I’ve found says the problem has to do with misbehaving Add-ons, extensions or themes. I’m only running four Add-ons, and decided to uninstall all but my Buttons and Google Browser Sync. Unfortunately, the problem persisted even after a reboot.

I did some more searching and found this thread that suggests loading this image to see if your browser memory consumption goes through the roof. Mine did. I read further down the thread and found a problematic add-on is indeed Google Browser Sync.

Check out this list of problematic extensions to see if any of your favorite add-ons are listed. If none of your extensions are listed, try the suggestions found on the Standard Diagnostic for Firefox and the causes for Firefox Hangs.

You can also try the Leak Monitor extension to help determine what is the cause of your Firefox memory leak. has four tips on handling Firefox memory usage as well.

Aardvark: A practical application for this Firefox add-on extension

Today, While I surfing instead of finishing a report I have to present Monday, I came across the Aardvark extension for Firefox. This add-on allows you to remove excess clutter from web pages so they look cleaner, print faster, and consume less ink.

For my example I took this web page and decided to remove the unwanted elements.

Here is what it looks like in Firefox


And here is a print preview of the same web site


I right-clicked the web page, and selected Start Aardvark


A red box appears, and I select the Toshiba advertisement


Pressing R removes the Toshiba image


I continue to remove all the unwanted objects from the page. Here’s the finished result


And here’s what the de-cluttered web page looks like in Print Preview

It was easy to use Aardvark, and I’ll continue to use it when I need to print a page that doesn’t have a printer friendly option. It also helps to remove unwanted objects around a section of a page you want to screen capture.